Autun St. Lazarus - Tympanum of the central portal

Autun St Lazare Tympan Vue Generale

This tympanum, created between 1130 and 1135, is noteworthy not only for its place among the great masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture, but also because it is signed. Its creator, Gislebertus, shows his style in all of the cathedral's sculpture. Experts detect in his work the mark of the workshops at Vezelay and perhaps Cluny, where he could have trained, but otherwise nothing is known about him.

This tympanum, one of the most dramatic and frightening depictions of the Last Judgment in existence, was deemed excessively primitive and vulgar by Enlightenment aesthetics, and was plastered over in 1766. As Christ's head stood too much in relief for the plasterer's trowel, it was simply removed. This action had the fortunate consequence of preserving the tympanum from Republican fury only 25 years later. The arched lintel was rediscovered and restored in 1837, but Christ's head was not identified and returned to its proper place until 1948.


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